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Making the Most of Social Media—Offline

Genevieve Coates is a freelance writer and graduate business student at University of Florida. She is a former staff writer for AndGeeks.com and Speedy-incorporation.com. She spends her free time tending to her massive “app garden” at home with her husband Dave.

Social media has become an undeniable part of the marketing game. Whether you are marketing content on your website or your small business’s new product, social media helps you spread that message to millions of people instantaneously.

But reaching people online is really only half the social media marketing battle. If you’re a business that sells products in a store, as well as online, you need to take it a step further.

In order to truly connect your small business to the customer base you hold so dearly, you need to create a face, a persona for your brand outside the walls of the Internet. That’s where social media goes from the Internet to the streets.

There are three main social media sites that we’ll talk about in this article to be used simultaneously to attract buyers and potential customers to an off-location site where you’ll be selling your products: Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare.

The main goal here is to bring your small business from behind the walls of the office or store and into the places that your customer base frequents. For the purposes of this article, we’ll say that you own a hat store and you’ve got a new hat that you’re promoting in your store. There’s also a fair (state or otherwise) in your town where you’d like to set up a booth. So let’s get started!

FACEBOOK

Facebook is a great place to start your new venture because of the ability to set up events through your business page. Just like kids create events for parties, you can do the same for your day out at the fair. Set up the event and call it “Hat Store’s Day at the Fair” or something like that. Be creative, but also make sure that your headline and information aren’t confusing.

You’ll also want to let your followers know that the specials offered at the fair will be for social media followers only. You can either create a coupon or let them know that if they mention the fact that they heard about the booth from social media, they’ll get the specials.

Now you’ll just need to create those specials (think 25 percent off purchase, $5 off of new hats, or buy one get one free).

In order to incorporate Foursquare, you’ll want to let followers know (in the information section of the event page) that if they check in at the booth on Foursquare, there will be an additional special offer.

TWITTER

Twitter has revolutionized the marketing playing field. With one click of a button, you’re able to reach any number of people, who may then continue to spread your message to people they know. It’s like Buzz or Word of Mouth marketing, except there is little chance of the message becoming skewed.

That’s exactly what you are going to do. Tweet the event details (with a link to the Facebook event page) and be sure to let everyone know that the specials offered are for social media followers. Tweet the details at least four times per day every day leading up to the event (in addition to your normal tweet schedule).

FOURSQUARE

To round all this out, you’ll create a new venue on Foursquare at the fair. Call it something like “Hat Store Booth” and then set up a check-in special. This special should probably be a one-time check-in special, rather than a series of check-ins. And again, it is up to you to decide what the extra benefit will be for followers using Foursquare.

The great thing about Foursquare is that they have built-in analytics for free. Visit the website and check out your Foursquare dashboard for a lot of really useful information, such as an age breakdown of people that checked in, a gender breakdown, how many people checked in, what percentage of those people sent their check-in to Facebook and Twitter, and what times they checked in.

This can help you with other portions of your marketing strategy, as well. By getting a good idea of who is interested in your product, you can really hone in on that 20 percent of people that give you 80 percent of your business.

The key to all of this, to making actual sales, will be to have some type of small business credit card processing with you at the booth. This saves the customers the hassle of running to an ATM to get cash if they don’t carry cash. The more you can help them out, the better. Isn’t that what good business is all about?

And one final note: as a small business owner, you must weigh the pros and cons of your specials. If you are reducing your margins too much, you may need to lower the discounts and specials offered. Just try not to do it in the middle of your day out at the booth.

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About the Author

  • Ty Kiisel

Small business evangelist and veteran of over 30 years in the trenches of Main Street business, Ty makes small business financing and trends accessible in common sense language devoid of the jargon. Ty writes about small business financing and other best practices for Lendio, in addition to sharing his passion for small business every week on Forbes.com. He's also the author of the book, Getting a Business Loan: Financing Your Main Street Business.

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Comments

  1. One area in social media that we see being overlooked is YouTube. YouTube is the seconds largest search engine behind Google so it’s crucial for a company to keep a strong presence there.

    • YouTube is someplace we’re trying to focus on this year as well. I think for many businesses who don’t consider themselves in the media business, YouTube is tough. Great comments—I hope you’ll keep reading.

  2. I’ve heard Twitter looks down on sending the same tweet multiple times. Not sure if they actually do anything about it.

  3. You can tweet out the same information as many times as you want on Twitter, but it’s all about how you package the information. Sending a carbon copy out over and over and over again isn’t going to do anyone any good. The followers won’t like it, and others that are new to your arena will probably frown on it, as well.

    YouTube is definitely an area that is a growing part of content marketing. It would be a great addition to this article, but I’m not well-versed enough in YouTube (yet) to add it directly to the piece. Thanks for bringing it up, though! It’s definitely important.